Same Family, Different Colors: Confronting Colorism in America's Diverse Families—Lori L. Tharps

By examining the ways different families from different ethnic groups confront and deal with skin color differences in the intimate space of the home, we can see where, when, how, and why color bias beings or ends and why it takes hold of some people while others are able to shrug it off like yesterday's news. We can see why a dark child in a Latino family scrubs herself with bleach every night so people understand she is her mother's child. We can see why a blond-haired, blue-eyed biracial girl covers her face with her Black mother's makeup so people recognize she is her mother's child. Colorism isn't just public statistics; it is also private agony that influences identity formation, self-esteem, and personal relationships. (13)

I received this book through LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program, which is one of my favourite things in the world. I love books, I especially love free books, and I love that  as a relative plebeian in the world, I still have the opportunity to get some ARCs. (Some authors receive stacks of ARCS per week. I would love to get there someday.)

I was stoked to win a copy of this book. While I have not personally been affected by colorism, I have close friends who have, and the issues examined within this book have been near the forefront of my mind for a while. As someone who is constantly looking to be more aware, to be more intersection in my causes, Same Family, Different Colors offers a look at a fairly taboo topic which is nonetheless incredibly present in many people's lives. As evidenced by the excerpt above, colorism within families and in America at large can have a devastating impact. If the idea of a child scrubbing themselves with bleach in an attempt to fit in and be recognized and identified with the rest of their family is not heartbreaking to you, you might want to check yourself.

This book was perfectly toned for me, with just the right ratio of personal anecdotes, interviews with individuals and families about their experiences, and historical context for why colorism might affect the four main types of families included (African Americans, Asian families, Latino families, and multiracial families). As a history nerd and someone who received a degree in History, there were some pieces of historical context that I knew, of course, but were presented in such a new light, in consideration of how that past might have led to this present where colorism is a real experience for people. For example, the idea that white men were willing and eager to marry African or Native women because of the lack of white women in the colonies, but if the law sanctioned those marriages, it would be implying that African and Native people were human. And then, of course, it would be much harder to justify the enslavement and mass slaughter of those groups. I've never heard that fact of history stated in quite that way before, and it was quite a revelation for me.

I shared some more general thoughts about the book in my vlog.

I would definitely recommend this to anyone who is interested in race and color in the United States. This book is being released in early October, and is available for pre-order at Amazon here.

Thanks again to LibraryThing, and to Beacon Press, for the ARC of this book! And thank you to the author, Lori L. Tharps, for writing this difficult and essential book. Please note that excerpts in both the blog and the vlog are from an uncorrected proof, and may be changed in the final bound version.

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